An insider's guide to your favourite fashion brands
Who started it?
Alberta Ferretti was born in 1950 in Cattolica, on the Adriatic coast of Italy. Her mother was a dressmaker who taught Ferretti how to design clothes. At the age of 18 she opened a boutique in Rimini called Jolly Shop, stocking clothes from designers she admired, including Armani, Krizia and Versace.
In 1974, she launched her womenswear label, Alberta Ferretti, and in 1980 she and her brother Massimo founded the manufacturing company Aeffe. Over the years, the company has acquired the rights to produce and distribute designs for brands such as Moschino, Pollini, Basso & Brooke, Narciso Rodriguez and Jean Paul Gaultier.
Ferretti made her debut at Milan Fashion Week in 1981, when her collection of pretty, romantic dresses caught the attention of the international media. In September 2004, she showed patchworks of different-coloured chiffon sewn together to create evening gowns. Shredded chiffon skirts featured mirror embroidery, built-in jewellery and feathery effects.
Her collections over the years have featured her trademark feminine, delicate and simple lines, with antique decoration. Ferretti is known for decisive cuts, luxurious fabrics, beautiful construction and soft silhouettes using beaded and embroidered chiffons and sari silks.
In 1984, Ferretti launched her diffusion line, Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti, aimed at a younger market.
In 2001, she introduced accessories, underwear and beachwear collections for both her lines. By 2003, Ferretti had boutiques in major cities including Moscow, Paris, Milan, Rome, Tokyo, New York, London and Taipei. That year, she also produced 490 costumes for a production of Carmen in Rome.
She made her name with her autumn/winter 2004 presentation, when various Hollywood actresses, including Uma Thurman, commissioned her to create gowns for the forthcoming Oscars.
Last year, she received an award for design achievement from the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, as well as an award from the International Fashion Group. She remains head designer for her two lines.
For the autumn collection, Ferretti presents a new sophistication with structured details and a nod to the 1960s. The calf-high boots, rounded capes and pod-shaped skirts are decidedly retro. She also mixes black, navy, brown and grey using fabrics such as wool, jersey and her distinctive chiffon ruffles. Dresses come in several styles, including short shifts, Empire line cocktail dresses and high-waisted Edwardian styles.
Who wears it?
Actresses Kate Bosworth, Natalie Portman, Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson, and model Gisele Bundchen.
Defining fashion moment?
Johannson wore a jade- green, satin Ferretti gown to the academy awards in February 2004, putting the designer in the spotlight once again.
Ferretti lives in Montegridolfo, a castle that dates from the Middle Ages. In 2000, she received an honorary degree from the University of Bologna for the castle's renovation.
Both lines are available at her boutique, Shop 204-205, the Landmark, Central, tel: 2118 3483 and at Lane Crawford. Alberta Ferretti is available at Lane Crawford, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2118 3428. Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti is available at Lane Crawford, Canton Road, Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2118 3668, and Times Square, Causeway Bay, tel: 2118 3638.